I know when I see it
Here you will see the inconsistent, unfair, untimely and corrupt practices of VCAT exposed. As Justice Stewart of the United States Supreme Court once said “I know it when I see it”. Corruption is easily apparent and distinguishable, as it affects the whole organization. Usually, it flows right from the top. Its similar to a “fish that rots from the head down”.
The corruption you will become aware from the procedures themselves and decisions. Hearings are held for the sake of saying “there was a hearing” and an outcome reached. Member’s are appointed to serve the best interest of certain parties. When questioned about how come Member interests’, like directorships, shares owned, and affiliations are not published, they told me that there is no requirement to publish them, however, if you suspect a conflict of interest then this should be mentioned at the start of the hearing.
Although, there is such a rule. This rule is rarely adhered to by the members. When I strongly objected about a member presiding in a residential tenancies matter, she just continued nevertheless.
The VCAT Act allows a party to request for the member to be changed, where there is bias. I experienced bias from two members. On both occasions I told the member to step-down. I even told him/her that it is written in the VCAT Act, that the registrar has the powers to appoint another member. But the member, on each occasion, just carried on. Of course, they may be shy to step-down as it would mean accepting that there was bias.
The VCAT even put the same member I had previously complained about, just to re-iterate that there was no bias by that member. I told her, that I will not have the matter determined by a biased member, said “thank you” and walked out of the hearing room. There is no point going through a hearing when someone has expressed bias against a member. It will not be a Fair trial (hearing). Until it is fixed, by appointing another member, it will be a waste of the Tribunal’s time and resources. I told the counter staff about this and also the “manager”, but he said that he was “not there” when I requested the change of member, and said I could lodge a complaint or appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
Decision made by biased member, without the parties present
Even though I had left the hearing room before taking an oath, the member went ahead and dismissed the case. So in effect, no one was there to witness the hearing, except her. The other party was not served with a hearing notice. I think, members must be assigned a number of cases each day and if they step-down from one hearing they must miss their targets. But this does not excuse them proceeding without an ounce of decency.
Bias explained clearly to Tribunal by way of a complaint
I lodged a complaint about the conduct and behaviour of the member to explain how I came to the conclusion that she was biased.
1) at the previous hearing she continuously interrupted me while speaking. Not so, when the respondent’s lawyer was speaking.
2) She threatened to “call security” at one point, and did not explain what for.
3) She did not consider the evidence I presented. When I handed her a document that required careful analysis by her, she just read the title of the document, “licence agreement” and handed it back to me.
4) I presented photos relevant to the case lodged prior to the hearing. There was no comment about these at all.
5) No opportunity to cross-examine the witness. The member was the only person who asked the witness questions. It was obvious that the questions were discussed with the witness before the hearing.
6) Clubby behaviour with the legal counsel for the respondent (other party).
These are just a few of the aspects. This Tribunal is rotten from head to tail. Not all members/staff are corrupt, but some are spoiling it for the others, so much that there is more of the spoilers or their influence has become stronger.
Each time I see a procedure flouted, a member behaving badly I complain. I will continue …if I do not complain anymore I am certain someone will take up the responsibility to complain on our behalf.
Here you will see the letter sent to me by the president of VCAT, Justice Garde. It denies all allegations of bad conduct and bad behavior by the member.
I initially became involved/had dealings with VCAT in November 2013, by lodging an application under the Residential Tenancies List seeking an interim restraining order/injunction against my former landlord.
The application lodgement went smoothly, and so did the arranging of the hearing. It was arranged for the same day, and the hearing took place at about 3pm, after filing the application at around 1pm.
But after the start of the hearing I could sense that there was something fishy, but you do not expect this from a Tribunal. So I continued to put my faith in it and went ahead with the hearing. Without any kind of documents, the member went on to make decisions. The only thing I found that the member did do correctly was to amend that application to become an application under the Residential Tenancies list and Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012. This is a power that VCAT has under the VCAT Act. However, he dismissed the matter saying it was a licence agreement. But when I asked him persistently to look at the agreement I was given by the landlord, he refused. So how did he work out that it was a licence agreement?.
Request for Audio CD
Under the VCAT rules any party to the proceedings has the right to request an audio CD of the proceedings thorough an approved supplier listed on the VCAT ‘request a CD’ form but they are not accurate or of much use, mostly because they are heavily edited. I’ve ordered two recordings up to now and on the initial one the inaccuracies were so stark that the questions and responses were interferred with. So, in one instance, where I asked the Tribunal Member a question, and he remained silent, in the audio, he is actually answering the question, using a monologue from another part of the recording.
The sound level with that recording was increased, which is okay. But everything else, appalling. The questionable editing is reported elsewhere. See:
Not the only one
This is not the only instance where VCAT has shown bias, shown outright disregard for the rules, and maladministration. See:
(see point No.13. of above link for members editing audio before it’s released)
There’s countless more. It’s high time to put a stop to this farce of a Tribunal.
Page Last Updated: 30 December 2016